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Family Law Tips: High-Conflict Divorce

High Conflict Divorce Statistics

Though it’s difficult to identify how many divorces are high-conflict definitively, it is often estimated that around 25% of divorces can be classified as “high-conflict.” Additionally, just because your divorce isn’t considered high-conflict doesn’t mean you won’t experience conflict or that your divorce will be low-conflict. Unfortunately, the very nature of divorce means that most couples will experience some level of discord as they separate from their former spouse.

Common markers of a high-conflict divorce:

  • Combative divorce negotiations
  • Refusal to compromise or work together
  • Contentious custody situations
  • Alternative dispute resolutions don’t work, making litigation necessary
  • Communication is difficult if not impossible between spouses

It is also common for couples going through a high-conflict divorce to struggle with remaining civil with one another. There may also be instances of one spouse bad-mouthing the other or attempting to ruin the social or professional reputation of the other. This can all be incredibly painful, and if you are going through this, you are not alone.

Managing a High-Conflict Divorce

Whether you’re dealing with vindictive behavior or a spouse who refuses to negotiate a divorce settlement, you may wonder how to handle a high-conflict divorce. These situations are always challenging and emotionally draining. Yet, there are a few things you can do to work through it and remain calm and focused.

Tips for managing a high-conflict divorce:

  • Set and maintain clear boundaries
  • Keep communication between your lawyers
  • Don’t engage if your former partner tries to antagonize you
  • Stay off of social media and don’t discuss your divorce online
  • Don’t use your children as a go-between or to spy on your spouse

Another difficulty faced in high-conflict divorces is the tendency for couples to fight over every aspect of their divorce settlement. This can become exhausting (not to mention expensive) very quickly. We recommend you strategize with your attorney when dealing with a high-conflict situation. Work to identify the most important issues as well as the ones you would be willing to compromise on. Going into negotiations prepared can help you smooth the process, even if you are dealing with a combative partner.

How Does a High-Conflict Divorce Affect Children?

It is also incredibly important that, when you are going through a high-conflict divorce, you do not drag your children into it. Divorce is never easy for children, but high-conflict divorces are especially difficult. Some parents use their children as pawns or to get back at each other, while others may quiz their kids on what’s going on in their other parent’s household. Unfortunately, putting children in the middle of divorce like this can be incredibly damaging.

Tips for co-parenting through a high-conflict divorce:

  • Stay focused on the children and their needs
  • Consider keeping communication limited to specific methods, such as email, which allow you to respond thoughtfully and not in the heat of the moment
  • Explore alternative dispute resolution methods when appropriate
  • Work with a family counselor when necessary
  • Consider working with a neutral third party for exchanges

It is also worth considering stepping back from co-parenting and instead approaching post-divorce parenting through a different lens. Because co-parenting requires more intense teamwork and frequent communication, it can exacerbate issues between parents. Many parents who have gone through a high-conflict divorce have found success using the parallel parenting method instead of traditional co-parenting. Parallel parenting may allow you to step back, reduce communication between your former spouse and yourself, and focus on your kids.

Are you struggling with a high-conflict divorce? If so, our lawyers can help. Call our law firm at (731) 256-0023 to discuss your case in a confidential consultation.

The Aftermath of a High-Conflict Divorce

High-conflict divorces can have long-term effects on you and your family. In a perfect world, after an acrimonious divorce, you can go your separate ways and never see or speak to your former spouse ever again. However, for many couples, this isn’t possible. In particular, if you and your ex have children, you will likely have to communicate with and see them often. Similarly, if you and your former spouse still own property together, you may have to stay in contact with them until that property is sold.

In cases like these, it is vitally important that you take care of yourself and your family. Many people dealing with high-conflict divorces find working with a therapist beneficial. It is important to remember that you take care of yourself and your mental health.

Working with an Attorney Post-Divorce

As previously mentioned, just because you are divorced doesn’t mean that you and your former spouse can go your separate ways. If you have lingering issues or situations, such as spousal support, child support, or property division matters that need attending to, you may need to consult with an attorney even after your divorce is finalized.

The two most common post-divorce issues our attorneys see are:

  • Modifications
  • Enforcement

Modifications may be necessary when one person loses their job, has to move, or experiences another significant life change that makes following their original court order (such as for alimony or child support) impossible. By seeking a modification, you or your former spouse can request that the original order be amended to suit your current life circumstances better.

Meanwhile, enforcement is a process through which one individual requests the court’s assistance compelling the other party to comply with a court order. For example, if you are awarded spousal support, and your partner refuses to pay, you may have grounds to file a contempt petition with the court.

If you need help with a post-divorce legal issue, contact Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC for guidance. We are always here to help.